The Homophobia Behind The Orlando Massacre Is Alive In Brazil

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JUNE 12:  People and members of the gay community gather for a vigil near the Sao Paulo Museum of Art to
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JUNE 12: People and members of the gay community gather for a vigil near the Sao Paulo Museum of Art to mourn for the victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Cris Faga/LatinContent/Getty Images)

The world is still in shock over the mass shooting that killed 50 people and left another 53 wounded in Orlando, Florida. By "the world," I mean those people who are truly human, and not those who take advantage of such a tragedy to spew hatred and indifference.

We know the facts: Omar Mateen, a U.S. citizen born to Afghan parents, entered Pulse nightclub in downtown Orlando and opened fire on the crowd. The nightclub is popular among Orlando's LGBT community. The 29 year-old Omar was killed by the police. According to his own father, he was a homophobe.

When analyzing this incident, we must address several aspects, such as the xenophobic rhetoric that has been used against Muslims -- most notably by the loathsome presidential candidate Donald Trump -- and the issue of gun control. As much as Omar Mateen hated LGBT people, he probably wouldn't have been able to murder them so easily if weapons weren't so accessible in the U.S.

We must also address where homophobia begins and how it develops.

Although many people refuse to admit it, the overt homophobia of the Islamic State has a lot in common with the homophobia pervading Brazilian society.

The religious fundamentalism of certain Muslim groups is no different from the fanaticism of some evangelicals. The only difference is that many evangelicals in Brazil aren't brave enough to admit that they hate the LGBT population. They would rather use empty and hypocritical discourse, such as their claims that we set a poor example for children. (As if the fanatics or fundamentalists of any religion could set good examples for anyone.)

Many still deny that the massacre in Orlando was driven by homophobia. Those people don't want to admit it because it would be embarrassing to show the world that they actually share the sentiments of someone who killed 50 innocent people.


When an evangelical pastor or a congressman states that gays are freaks, he justifies the shooting in Orlando and the violence against the LGBT population in Brazil.

Even though Brazilian religious fundamentalists don't take up arms, in a way, they are killing us every day. With their rhetoric and their theories on gender, they constantly authorize the violence that we, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people suffer on a daily basis.

When an evangelical pastor or a congressman states that gays are freaks, he justifies the assault in Orlando and the violence against the LGBT population in Brazil. And they're doing the same when they say that we must be cured or when they prevent us from using our social names.

The perpetuation of this cycle of violence against LGBT people seems to be the main task of these false prophets. They completely ignore that Brazil is one of the countries with the highest number of LGBT murders in the world. Alternatively, they could be fully aware of the situation -- perhaps it pleases them. They may even feel that their mission is being carried out successfully.

Religious fundamentalists, of course, are not the only homophobes (and lesbophobes, biphobes, and transphobes.)

People must understand that their words have an impact. It is hard to imagine that men like Bolsonaro, Feliciano and Malafaia (all extremely conservative congressmen) are not aware of the wave of violence that their words can cause against certain groups.

The same is valid for Trump, who is now using the tragedy in Orlando to once again attack all Muslims, and paint them as terrorists. Not all Muslims are terrorists, just as not all evangelicals are fundamentalist bigots -- but unfortunately, the hate speech spewed by these radical groups has a very negative impact.

Homophobia starts at home, it starts in school, and it starts in religious temples. All these places are directly or indirectly responsible for the violence suffered by LGBT people. When there is no room for dialogue, all that's left is hypocrisy.

When the ousted president Dilma Rousseff -- under pressure from conservative congressmen -- vetoed the anti-homophobia educational kit, it legitimized the violence against the LGBT population.

When gays are not allowed to donate blood to friends who had been injured in the Orlando attack, the violence against the LGBT population is being legitimized. When part of LGBT community itself decides to support a man like Bolsonaro, they are legitimizing the violence against themselves.

Homophobia (or LGTB-phobia) is rooted in society, in the predominant discourse, the jokes, and habits. And every little detail kills us. Every day, here or in Orlando, we suffer from violence and our lives are threatened.

Praying alone will not be enough to bring forth a more just and less prejudiced world. We need education. We need awareness. We need to fight.

Our bodies mean resistance.
Our love is persistence.
Our pain is experience.

Our mere existence
represents a gross indecency.

Our dreams are wasted.
Our gestures are judged.

Our identity is questioned.
Our joy is buried in blood.

We do not victimize ourselves, because we are victims already.
Underdogs. Trash. Scum. Those terms never represented us.
We move on. Fight is our element.

This post first appeared on HuffPost Brazil. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.